Dreamliner battery fix fails as Tesla recalls 29,000 cars for battery charger fault

The overheating problems of lithium-ion batteries and their chargers seem to more serious than just teething problems. Boeing and Tesla continue to have issues with thermal runaway and permanent fixes are proving elusive.

Boeing’s problems with the Dreamliner batteries are not yet over. The fix for its battery problem in March  does not seem to have worked for yet another Japan Airlines aircraft. The lithium-ion batteries are now having issues even with Tesla who have recalled “29,000 Model S vehicle 240-volt charging adapters that could overheat and cause a fire. The company will update software in the electric vehicles and send owners replacement adapters.”

The Telegraph: 

Japan Airlines has temporarily grounded one of its 787 Dreamliners after white smoke was spotted outside the plane, warning lights in the cockpit indicated possible faults with the main battery and charger, and one battery cell appeared to be leaking.

Boeing said it was “aware of the 787 issue that occurred Tuesday afternoon at Narita, which appears to have involved the venting of a single battery cell”.

The incident comes nearly a year to the day after Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways grounded their 787 fleets after two 787 batteries overheated on two different planes in less than two weeks.

Global regulators grounded the worldwide fleet on January 16, 2013. The planes remained grounded for more than three months while Boeing redesigned the battery, charger and containment system to ensure battery fires would not put the airplane at risk. The cause of the battery problems has not been determined.

On Tuesday, Japan Airlines said maintenance engineers who were in the cockpit saw white smoke from the cockpit. When they went outside the aircraft the smoke had dispersed.

Detroit News:

…. The Palo Alto, Calif., automaker told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that its review found that defective or improperly installed wall receptacles that the adapter plugged into could cause problems, including melted adapters and or a fire. While the number of incidents remains small, and Tesla’s review to date points to the building or wiring as the primary cause of failed adapters, “the company has determined that a voluntary recall is appropriate as a precautionary measure,” Tesla said.

Since late 2012, Tesla said 2.7 percent of universal mobile connector adapters have been returned and “showed signs of internal damage only and that stopped vehicle charging.” …

….. In November, NHTSA opened a formal investigation into 13,100 Tesla Motors Model S electric cars after three reports of battery fires that occurred after accidents. ……. The announcement of the investigation came after NHTSA had said in October it would not open a formal investigation after a fire in Kent, Wash., occurred when debris struck the underside of a Model S and caused the battery to catch fire. After a fire in Mexico and a fire earlier this month near Smyrna, Tenn., NHTSA decided to open an investigation.

NHTSA said in both of the incidents in the U.S., fires occurred after the undercarriage of the cars hit metal debris on the road, which damaged the battery tray and caused “thermal runaway.” “In each incident, the vehicle’s battery monitoring system provided escalating visible and audible warnings, allowing the driver to execute a controlled stop and exit the vehicle before the battery emitted smoke and fire,” NHTSA said.

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